NAFTA FREE TRADE COMMISSION JOINT STATEMENT
“Decade of Achievement ”
San Antonio, July
Ambassador Robert B. Zoellick, United States Trade Representative;
Fernando Canales, Mexico Secretary of Economy; and The Honourable James
Peterson, Canada Minister of International Trade, are pleased to release the
following Joint Statement, which outlines the overall results of the July
16, 2004, meeting of the NAFTA Free Trade Commission, in San Antonio, Texas.
Ten years ago, our countries launched a bold initiative: to create the
world’s largest free trade area, one that would knit our countries together
through freer trade and investment. Today, as we look back over the record
of the last decade, we are proud of the accomplishments. We remain committed
to the full implementation of the NAFTA, and to building upon our
achievements to date. By any measure, NAFTA has been a success. The
dismantling of barriers has led to increased trade and investment, growth in
employment, and enhanced competitiveness.
Since January 1, 1994, when the NAFTA entered into force, three-way trade
among our countries has reached over US $623 billion, more than double the
pre-NAFTA level. From 1994 to 2003, cumulative Foreign Direct Investment in
our three countries has increased by over US $1.7 trillion. Increased
investment has brought more and better-paying jobs, as well as lower costs
and more choices for consumers and producers.
Similarly, we are pleased to take note of the success of the North American
Agreement on Environmental Co-operation and the North American Agreement on
Labor Co-operation. These agreements, which have also marked ten years since
their entry into force, have effectively promoted better environmental
performance and working conditions in North America.
We cannot, however, rest on past accomplishments. We are committed to
deepening economic integration in North America by building on the NAFTA to
further benefit businesses, workers, and consumers. With virtually all
tariffs and quotas on North American trade eliminated, we are looking for
additional ways to enhance trade and investment by lowering transaction
costs and other administrative burdens. In addition, we agreed to explore a
broad range of ways to further integrate our economies through trade and
boost competitiveness. We asked our officials to place a particular emphasis
on areas such as manufacturing, services, business facilitation,
compatibility of standards, and the further elimination of technical
barriers to trade. We want to ensure that the NAFTA provides our countries
with a competitive advantage in a world of global sourcing.
Last year we asked the NAFTA Working Group on Rules of Origin to pursue
further liberalization of the NAFTA Rules of Origin. Today we have reached
tentative agreement to liberalize the rules of origin for a broad range of
foods, consumer and industrial products. Together, these changes will affect
US $20 billion in trilateral trade. We have asked our officials to begin our
respective domestic procedures required to implement these changes on
January 1, 2005. We also asked the Working Group on Rules of Origin to
continue its work to pursue further liberalization of the rules of origin,
including those for chemicals, pharmaceuticals, plastics and rubber, motor
vehicles and their parts, footwear and copper, as well as any items for
which all of our countries have a common MFN duty rate of zero. In addition,
we asked the Working Group to continue considering new requests from our
consumers and producers and to examine the rules of origin in the free trade
agreements that each country has negotiated subsequent to the NAFTA, to
determine if we should apply those new rules to the NAFTA. We instructed
officials to initiate the necessary consultations with domestic industries
and to report to our Deputies at their next meeting.
We noted the progress of the trilateral working group negotiating provisions
on the exportation of tequila. We instructed our officials to complete this
work prior to the next Deputies Meeting in the fall of 2004.
We are committed to transparency in trade negotiations. The negotiating
texts of the NAFTA are documents of historical value and we recognize the
level of public interest in them. We asked our officials to compile the
NAFTA negotiating texts, bearing in mind the time necessary to complete
this. We began the process with Chapter 11 and are pleased to announce that
Chapter 11 texts will be available through our websites.
We are pleased that the transparency initiatives we took during our October
2003 meeting have already begun to improve the operation of the investment
chapter investor-state dispute-settlement mechanism. Earlier this year, for
the first time a tribunal accepted written submissions from a non-disputing
party and adopted the procedures that we recommended following our
October 7, 2003 meeting in Montreal, for the handling of such submissions.
We were pleased Mexico has now joined Canada and the United States in
supporting open hearings for investor-state disputes. In addition, we have
agreed that the same degree of openess should apply to proceedings under the
Dispute Settlement provisions of Chapter 20 of the NAFTA, and asked
officials to develop rules governing open hearings for such proceedings.
We reaffirmed our interest in the on-going review of the operation of the
Investment Chapter and directed officials to continue work seeking ways to
improve the implementation of the chapter, including through, where
appropriate, an examination of all of our experiences in subsequent free
trade agreements which we have negotiated.
Noting the value of the NAFTA Dispute Settlement provisions, we reaffirm our
commitment to their effective operation.
We analyzed the current state and the future prospects for the North
American textile and apparel sectors. We addressed the impending
liberalization of international textile and apparel trade at the end of 2004
and asked our officials to continue to consider actions such as cumulation
among countries with whom we each have free trade agreements in order to
enhance the competitiveness of our industries. We are committed to
strengthening efforts to combat illegal transshipment and will continue to
explore mechanisms to increase trilateral cooperation in this area. We also
want to encourage the textile and apparel industries of North America to
come together and identify areas of common interest where private sector
cooperation could contribute to the development of the sectors.
We are also pleased that the NAFTA countries are close to finalizing an
arrangement on the use of care symbols for textile and apparel goods. The
uniform acceptance of care instruction symbols in our three countries will
facilitate trade in our region and will send a positive signal that we are
fully committed to pursuing further integration in this sector. We asked our
Deputies to report to us by December 1 on the prospects and opportunities
for the North American market.
We recognized the critical importance of the August 30, 2003, decision of
the WTO Members to address the public health problems affecting many
developing and least-developed countries, especially those resulting from
HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other epidemics, and agreed to ensure
that this historic multilateral decision is fully reflected in the context
of the NAFTA.
We support the continuing work of the Council of the North American
Commission on Environmental Cooperation to protect the environment in North
America. We ask our officials to continue their close cooperation with their
environmental colleagues, through the Article 10(6) Working Group, to
develop a strategic plan on trade and the environment.
We reaffirmed our commitment to achieving meaningful progress this year on
the WTO Doha Development Agenda. We are encouraged by the reinvigoration of
the negotiations on the Doha Development Agenda. In agriculture, we are on
the verge of an historic agreement that this round will: eliminate export
subsidies and discipline other forms of export competition in a parallel
manner; substantially reduce and discipline trade-distorting domestic
supports far in excess of what was achieved in previous negotiations; and
substantially improve market access for all agricultural products,
especially for developing countries. Working in cooperation with other WTO
members, we are determined to complete the frameworks on key issues before
the end of July that will put these far-reaching negotiations on track
toward a rapid and successful conclusion. We call on all WTO members to work
constructively and swiftly so we can meet our shared commitment to the Doha
At the same time, we reaffirmed our commitment to the Free Trade Area of the
Americas (FTAA) process and the successful conclusion of negotiations on a
comprehensive, ambitious multilateral agreement including common rules,
plurilateral rules, and market access that is compatible with the WTO.
We agreed to publish on the three Ministries web sites a trilateral brochure
on the NAFTA.
Finally, we agreed that Mexico will host the next NAFTA Commission meeting,
at the Ministerial level, in 2005.
Source: International Trade